Regular exercise is important to the health and wellbeing of your heart. Individuals who don’t exercise have higher rates of heart disease compared to people who perform even mild to moderate amounts of physical activity. But while we all know we ought to be exercising for our health, it is easier said than done, especially as the weather cools. So here are some ideas on how stay motivated and remain active in the fall and winter.
First and foremost, talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise regime. Knowing your health history, he or she can make the most accurate recommendation for you. That being said, the general guideline is that most people should exercise 30 minutes a day, at moderate intensity, on most days. Aerobic activity is excellent for your cardiovascular system; aerobic activities include: brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, jumping rope, etc. However, while vigorous activities can be associated with more benefits, even leisure-time activities like gardening or moderate walking can lower your risk of heart disease. If walking is your exercise of choice, we recommend aiming for the pedometer goal of 10,000 steps a day.
When it comes to staying motivated, keep in mind that exercise and the resulting rush of endorphins is a great way to combat the winter blues—it’s good for your physical and mental health. Staying active in the winter also boosts immunity, wards away those aches and pains that arise from a sedentary lifestyle, and inhibits weight gain that can occur from holiday eating and drinking. When you keep in mind all the positive ways exercise impacts your life, it is easier to stay motivated.
Because fitness is most effective when consistent, exercise should be incorporated into your daily routine, no matter the weather. Avoid hibernating and use the outdoors to your benefit: go for a beautiful autumn walk, work on the house and garden, or rake up some leaves; when the snow starts arriving try a new winter activity like skating, skiing or snow-shoeing. Just make sure to properly warm up first as cold weather can make muscles tight and more prone to injury. Also, dress for the weather by wearing layers you can peel off to properly manage body temperature.
And if you prefer to stay indoors, there is plenty still to do. Exercise routines are available online or at the library so that you can do them at home and simple hand weights and stretch bands make for excellent resistance exercises. Other activities around the house include climbing stairs and even active housework. If you’re looking to get out of the house, try joining a local health club, pool or sports club.
There are so many options to stay fit in the winter that cold weather should be no excuse. Heart health is not seasonal—it doesn’t take a holiday—and we need to keep up the activity year round. So dust off your gear and take that first step for your heart.